What to expect
Week 1 of the 2013 NBA preseason is complete, and the Portland Trail Blazers are 1-2 entering their contest with the Utah Jazz. The game will be on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at EnergySolutions Arena.
Up to this point, there’s been a number of takeaways for fans in Rip City. The team has played some sloppy basketball, and injuries have been a problem; but above all else, the team finally won its first contest in 15 outings (dating back to the 2012-13 season).
Entering Week 2, the Portland faithful will be looking for a few things to improve — or stay consistent. The Blazers have two games this week, or three if you include Sunday’s matchup against the Sacramento Kings.
During the first three games of the preseason, Portland averaged more than 20 turnovers per contest. If that number had been the same during last year’s regular season, it would have put the Blazers in last place in that category.
Damian Lillard will be faced with a defensive challenge in Chris Paul next week (Photo: Oregonlive)
When this team takes the court in Week 2, look for a more cohesive unit to come together. The roster has changed since last season, and while one week won’t define their year, it will give them a better idea of how each player operates.
Don’t be shocked to see the turnovers stay high, but expect to see better passes and fewer miscues when it’s all said and done.
Damian Lillard’s Defense
Damian Lillard was coveted as the top rookie throughout the entire 2012-13 season. He was the easy choice for Rookie of the Year, and he was just the fourth player in history to earn unanimous honors.
But while he hit the scene immediately with his offensive game, it was his defense that left people questioning his superstar potential.
During Portland’s most recent outing against the Utah Jazz, Lillard showed that he has it in him to be a solid defender. He smothered rookie point guard Trey Burke from start to finish, forcing the youngster to finish with just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Lillard’s defense still needs work, as his best performance is against a player with zero NBA experience. That said, we’ve heard all along about how he’s motivated to prove people wrong, and following up a good performance with an even better one should be his goal every night out.
Preseason basketball doesn’t matter when it comes to making the playoffs, but it does matter when it comes to regular season preperation.
While fans want to see every player perform night in and night out, the Blazers will play it safe when it comes to the health of their best players.
At this point, we’ve seen LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Mo Williams and CJ McCollum miss time to injury. LaMarcus Aldridge and Mo Williams have since returned, but CJ McCollum is out for the foreseeable future with a broken bone in his foot.
When it comes to Nicolas Batum, a concussion is likely to keep him out more time. In his place will be players such as Victor Claver, Will Barton and Allen Crabbe.
Expect to see the core unit slowly integrate throughout the week, but don’t be shocked if the youngsters earn more time before the regular season finally comes around.
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